Slideshow: Green and Red Chile in New Mexico Roundup

Tamales from Rancho de Chimayo
Tamales from Rancho de Chimayo
First up, the ubiquitous tamale. This fine specimen comes from Rancho de Chimayo, where the masa (the corn and water mixture) for the tamales is perfectly tender and fluffy. My dining partner wanted the masa to be denser and tighter; happily, I prefer a looser masa dough.

If you’re having trouble locating the tamale on this plate, look between the enchilada and the chile relleno. In any case, the whole platter has been topped with green chile.

Rancho de Chimayo: County Rd 98, Chimayo NM 87522 (map); 505-351-4444.

Tamales from Tomasita's
Tamales from Tomasita's
The tamales from Tomasitas’s near the railyard in Santa Fe are heavy on the red chile and light on the cheese. The red sauce was pretty spicy but the tamales themselves were moist.

Tomasita's: 500 S. Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe NM 87501 (map); 505-983-5721.

Chile Relleno from Rancho de Chimayo
Chile Relleno from Rancho de Chimayo
Chile relleno is a traditional dish in the Northern New Mexican area where the chilies tend to be smaller and therefore, unstuffable. However, chile rellenos have been commonly found at restaurants for decades now. The green chiles used for stuffing frequently come from Hatch in southern New Mexico, where the pods are considerably larger.

This chile relleno was next to the tamale on the Rancho de Chimayo platter. As you’ll notice, the batter is thick and golden brown. In fact, the casing for the chile was so perfectly crisp, it was almost tempura-like. Truly one of the better chile rellenos I’ve eaten in my life, and the cheese filling stayed melted and soft the whole way through.

Rancho de Chimayo: County Rd 98, Chimayo NM 87522 (map); 505-351-4444.

Enchiladas from Mary and Tito’s
Enchiladas from Mary and Tito’s
While The Shed serves the best enchilada platter in Santa Fe, the mom-and-pop establishment Mary and Tito’s may hold the same title in Albuquerque.

This enchilada plate includes two blue corn tortillas rolled in cheese and onions. The green chile here is much spicier than most, but the heat is not so extreme that you won't enjoy it. As an added bonus, you can have the enchilada with an egg on top. I got mine sunnyside-up, and the yolk oozed into the green chile when I prodded it with my fork. Of course, what enchilada dish wouldn’t be utterly satisfying with green chile and an egg on top?

Mary and Tito’s: 2711 4th Street NW, Albuquerque NM 87107 (map); 505-344-6266.

Enchiladas from Rancho de Chimayo
Enchiladas from Rancho de Chimayo
Rancho de Chimayo serves their enchiladas rolled up and filled with cheese. Their sauces are made with local chiles from Chimayo, where the pods are smaller, more wrinkled, and slightly sweeter than those grown in southern New Mexico.

Ristras, hanging strings of dried red chile, are common fixtures in households in Chimayo and all across New Mexico.

Rancho de Chimayo: County Rd 98, Chimayo NM 87522 (map); 505-351-4444.

Burritos from Atrisco Café
Burritos from Atrisco Café
I usually reserve my burrito consumption for Mexican rather than New Mexican establishments, but the lamb burrito with green chile at Atrisco Café usues flavorful, locally-raised lamb. The leg of lamb is roasted, then thinly sliced and rolled into a burrito with a hefty flour tortilla. While the tortillas would have been too thick on their own, their texture held up well to the liquid-like mass of cheese and the powerful kick from the green chile.

Atrisco Café: 193 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe NM 87501 (map); 505-983-7401.

Carne Adovado from The Shed
Carne Adovado from The Shed
Carne Adovado is a staple dish all across New Mexico. Pork is marinated in a red sauce made with red chiles, oregano, cumin, and garlic; the meat is then baked until the meat is fork-tender. Marination times will vary according to each cook, but the flavor of the chile should penetrate the dense chunks of pork.

The Shed’s enchilada plate may be the best in town, but the pork isn’t too shabby either. The same sweetness that makes their red chile sauce so addictive is used for their carne adovado platter as well.

The Shed: 113 E. Palace Avenue, Santa Fe NM 87501 (map); 505-982-9030.

Marinated Pork from Rancho de Chimayo
Marinated Pork from Rancho de Chimayo
Rancho de Chimayo makes the marinated pork cooked in a spicy red chile caribe sauce, served with generous amounts of posole on the side. The meat in the dish is quite lean but tender. The red chile sauce is sweet and flavorful, made with the local dried chile powder.

Rancho de Chimayo: County Rd 98, Chimayo NM 87522 (map); 505-351-4444.